Thursday, 3 September 2015

Entirely Adequate

Another new thing, that you can go over and buy if you have the inclination and the funds. From the Comix Company comes something else from Lee James Turnock. The LAST thing, ever, from him, to be accurate. More on that later, but it's a bit of a shame. He's going out on a high with this fantastic Roy Wilson-ish cover:

Can you spot Mr. Natural? Or Little Peanut?

Content-wise, it's all that can be expected to those who've been following his comics for the past decade or so. For those that haven't, this includes parodies of beloved past comic-folk:

Wonderfully creative swearing:

Collaborations (of sorts) with Rob Yuppies (of Filth fame):

Hatred in list form:

NB: I love most of these things - a product of the Nineties am I!

Plus a load more stuff - Louis Barf's a highlight, there's a few pages of painful childhood anecdotes, and the whole thing ends on an eight-page ranting against the world in general, stream-of-consciousness sort of style-like. 32 pages in all, for cheap! Recommended, certainly... It can be purchased: HERE (if you have trouble with the site, like I often do, just send Dexter an email - he's a friendly chap and will sort you out good and proper).

As I mentioned a moment ago, this is LJT's LAST comic. He's had enough, and time, as with everyone else, is against him. Failing eyesight, low sales and relentless online bullying have seemingly taken their toll (Gerald Groy, whoever he is, is one such twat who has been posting abuse at seemingly every blog that mentions Turnock, this one included!). He's even taken down his blog, which is a shame, as that was one of the main "inspirations" behind me starting this one. Ah well. For his last ever post, Turnock listed a load of reasons why he sees there's little point in anyone pursuing a career in comics, at least not in the UK. Bit of a bum note, but it's hard to argue with. The list was deleted along with the rest of the blog, but for reasons of preservation (as in, read this!), here's a more-or-less copy-and-paste version of it:

1) Self-published books don't sell.
Sure, your friends and family might indulge you and buy a few copies, but once those are gone, shifting the rest of your stock is an uphill battle. An uphill battle that costs money, as well as the effort of trying to convince store owners to stock your work (usually they'll take a large percentage of the cover price just for the privilege of having a small stack of A5 comics on their counter) and the expense of promoting your work. What next? You're left with a stack of unsellable books that will rot away in your spare room. Well done. For the rest of your life, whenever you look at that stack of books, you will think 'I could have spent that money on something else'. Don't think it, do it. Life's too short for regrets.

2) Comics don't sell.
Ignore what a certain other blogger might tell you about British comics being alive and well (it's easy to say that when one of the few remaining 'big name' publishers is paying your wages), comics DO NOT SELL. People don't read much any more (16% of the UK population is functionally illiterate) and those that do don't read comics. In short, self-published books don't sell, self-published comics are even less likely to sell. All aboard the fail train! Ding ding! Next stop, the middle of nowhere!

This I can clarify - I was working in a newsagents for almost a decade, in all that time, we had two people who bought Viz (myself included), one child who bought the Dandy for about three months, one who bought the Beano for even less time than that, and not one copy of 2000 AD was sold in the whole time I was there. The shop was on a road that had around twelve residential roads branching off it, loads of kids everywhere. I know one newsagents is just a drop in the ocean, but it gives a fair idea of the dismal nature of it all at least. Even when I was of the "target market" age, I think I knew less than ten other people who read comics regularly.

3) Self-publishing is for losers.
I mean that in a nice way, of course. One of the main reasons people choose to self-publish is because the major publishing houses won't touch their work with their worst enemy's dick. I've read a lot of self-published comics in my time, naming no names, and it's a real struggle to think of more than a handful that weren't as dull as dishwater - or which I'd spend my own money on if I saw them in a shop. 

4) Drugs, LOLZ!
Sadly, a lot of self-published comic editors and writers seem to think it's still the late sixties or early seventies and that counter-cultural druggie 'humour' is the way to go. It isn't. Trust me, it really, REALLY isn't. So you've got a red, gold and green masthead? Wow, you must be feeling some serious rastaman vibrations. Shame the whole of your comic is full of insipid lookalike characters with big teeth grinning inanely whilst smoking a joint. Oh, so you've done a parody of the Bash Street Kids called the Hash Street Kids? Wow, you are so fucking hip. Cheech and Chong were shit as well. 'Weed makes you high and makes you tired!' Copy and paste for 32 pages, disappointment guaranteed.

To be fair, it's been a long time since I've seen anything of this variety in the shops - think the last one I saw was Wasted which folded around 2010, and even that was mostly reprints of the even earlier Northern Lightz

5) Nobody gives a fuck about your sex fantasies.
So you want to sniff cocaine off Jodie Foster's foot? Nice. Keep it to yourself, though. Nobody wants to see that crap in a comic, it's just awkward and more than a little creepy.

Click on that link at your peril. In short, 'AREN'T I SHOCKING AND ICONOCLASTIC!' type comics that feature the usual shit-eating / rape / incest / arse-shagging shenanigans. 

7) Go cry, emo kid.
Yeah, those twee, cloying comics about slightly outsiderish people and their relationships, drawn in a predictable chibi anime style. Unreadable.

8) Even Alan Moore doesn't give a fuck about comics any more.
It's true, you know. So why should I?

9) The explosion of Viz clones in the late eighties and early nineties not only killed any remaining interest in Viz clones, it almost killed Viz as well.
You know the expression 'enough is as good as a feast'? Well, obviously the hordes of hacks who tried their hand at grabbing a slice of the Viz phenomenon had never heard that expression, otherwise they would have realised that boom leads to bust and a glut leads to boredom.

All of these, of course, only apply to those that wish to make a career out of comics. A lot of my favourite things appear to be about as far from profitable ideas as you can get, and it's rare that you'll find a medium more personal than the comic, both in terms of those that make them and those that read them. Once upon a time, people COULD make a living out of doing something they love, but, apart from a lucky few, that just isn't the case these days. There's a guy I know who works for 2000 AD (won't be mentioning his name here) who has loads of ideas, but knows that if he attempts to have a go at them, he's risking his house and his family, so instead has to stick to drawing for scripts he has no interest in. Looking at a lot of my favourite "modern" comics - as in, ones that are still getting made right now, as a I type - how many of their creators have "comics" as their "main income"? Not many, if any at all. 

I don't want to be part of the doom and gloom brigade - the Beano, after all, has just reached its 3800th issue this week, making it the world's longest-running weekly comic, so celebrate! There's obviously SOMEONE out there still buying them. But then again, there's maybe less than ten titles regularly on the shelves these days. Compared to even ten years ago, that's not at all healthy. Ten years ago I'd regularly be looking at the small press sections of the specialist comics shops, mostly finding new and interesting and crazy things - gradually they all but disappeared. One shop hasn't updated their stock in years, still the same things sitting on the shelf that were there in 2010. Another shop stopped stocking them altogether. I asked the owners what had happened to the small press section, their response? "You're the first person who's asked!". Shame, definitely. For a long, long, LONG post about the "state of things", go and have a look at Terry Hooper-Scharf's blog.

Personally, I'm looking at things as if "time" isn't a thing. DEFINITELY as if "making money" isn't a thing. I was too young to know what was going on when the majority of the comics covered on this blog were out, and have been having a great time getting my hands on as many of them as I can. There's still LOADS of these "sort of things" that I haven't got around to covering yet, and that list is tiny compared to my actual reading pile! There's still "new stuff" that's good too - all of it's of a fairly "specialist" nature, as in, nobody's making any serious money off of them, but the comics are still fun, and to me as a mere "fan", that's good enough. Take a look at the wares of the previously mentioned Comix Company (adults only!) for one, and then there's the homegrown goodies of Braw Books. Eyeball Comix do some crazy stuff, Knockabout Comics still have the occasional new release, John A. Short's Kult Creations is a varied beast, Jack Teagle's done a couple of goodies...

There IS good stuff out there, it just takes more effort to find than it used to. Ouch. It's seemingly more of a hobbyist's game nowadays. And when you DO find good stuff, that makes it all the more rewarding. Just don't keep it to yourself, tell everyone about it!